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Letters From the Labyrinth 348
Good morning from somewhere along the banks of the Susquehanna River. It is 8:00 a.m. on Saturday as I type this, and it’s looking like it will be another beautiful day. I spent much of this week still buried in work. My primary goal was to finish editing the Definitive Edition of J. F. Gonzalez’s Survivor so that we could get it back in print in time for Halloween. I also worked on BENEATH THE LOST LEVEL, those Lost Level stories that folks purchased, and the adaptation of GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX, and had a Scares That Care board meeting, but mostly, Survivor was my focus. I am happy to report that the book is done, and off to Elderlemon Design for the cover. It will be out in time for Halloween.
Survivor: The Definitive Edition is 440 pages, and contains the full novel, two short stories set in the world of the novel, an essay by Jesus on the creation of the novel, another nearly 10,000-word essay by Jesus on the history of Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror, and an Introduction by me. The text is based on the Deadite Press edition, which Jesus felt was the best edition, as he had corrected a lot of typos and things that had crept into the Leisure Books and Midnight Library editions before that. So, I used that as my starting point and then hunted for any additional typos. I did not change his words.
With the release of Survivor, we’ll be down to just one book that still needs reprinting — his vampire novel, Conversion. (His collaborations with Wrath James White are also currently out of print, but scheduled to come back into print very soon). But yeah, after Conversion (which I intend to release early next year) all that will be left are several short story collections (I estimate four, perhaps) and another nonfiction collection. There are a number of trunk novels and four incomplete novels. Of those, two — The Crossroads and Final Retreat — will eventually see publication. And after all that?
Well, then it is up to you, the reading public, to make sure my friend’s voice doesn’t fall silent.
It’s been a bittersweet week, is what I’m trying to say.
While working on the book, I went searching for a New York Times feature article from October 2004. The article was about the (then) resurgence in horror fiction, and featured some (then) young authors like myself, Jesus, Tim Lebbon, and Tananarive Due. I have fond memories of the day that article came out. I was at a convention in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a terrible convention. I think maybe a dozen attendees showed up.
Myself, authors Tom Piccirilli, Drew Williams, and Geoff Cooper; pre-reader Tod Clark; Kelly Laymon, then very young Jonathan Reitan, and actors Michael Berryman, Ken Foree, and Reggie Bannister were sitting in a conference room at 4 a.m., drinking and talking and turning a sow’s ear into a purse. Michael Berryman got word that the article was coming out, and he quietly slipped downstairs, somehow found a copy of The New York Times at four in the morning in Phoenix, and brought it back up to the room, saying, “Hey, the kid is in the paper.” Everybody took turns reading it out loud.
That remains one of my favorite memories from this career.
(If you were also in that room and I have forgotten you were there, my sincere apologies. While it is one of my favorite memories, it is just that — a memory — and I am learning at the cusp of 56 that those, like everything else, are fleeting…)
Here’s a gift link to the article (courtesy of Bev Vincent) for those of you who might encounter a paywall.
Good morning. I’m Brian Keene and this is the 348th issue of Letters From the Labyrinth — a weekly Sunday newsletter for fans, friends, and family. Thanks for being here. I miss my friend, but am happy to still have you.
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I’ve been hinting that Christopher Golden and I are working on something very big that we can’t talk about. I have given it the codename OPERATION: WALKABOUT.
Well, this is NOT — absolutely not — OPERATION: WALKABOUT. That announcement is still forthcoming.
But I am very pleased to announce Christopher Golden's HOUSE OF LAST RESORT WEEKEND, hosted by me.
What is it? It’s a free horror fiction convention.
Yes. You read that right. Free.
It takes place January 18 - 21, 2024 at Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel 250 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801. In addition to Chris and myself, authors in attendance will include Mary SanGiovanni, Victor LaValle, Owen King, Paul Tremblay, Gretchen Felker-Martin, Eric LaRocca, V. Castro, Cynthia Pelayo, Ronald Malfi, Phillip Fracassi and many more.
Admission is FREE with weekend hotel room reservation. (Admission for those without a hotel room reservation is $80 per person). Unlike the usual convention scene, the House Of Last Resort Weekend is a more relaxed, personal gathering featuring readings, signings, friendly discussions, and much more. Bring your books from home and get them signed for free! Ask your favorite author about your favorite book by them! Relax and hear a spooky story! Come be among friends, because in a world gone increasingly mad... this is the HOUSE OF LAST RESORT.
Click here to register and receive your ticket to this FREE one-time event.
Click here to reserve your hotel room.
Please Note: This is not a Scares That Care event, and is not associated with the charity. (There was confusion about this from at least one person who emailed STC CEO Joe Ripple inquiring about getting a table). This is Chris and I trying to do something nice for our fans and for our community, and throwing a free party for them. You take care of your hotel room and your travel. We’ll take care of the rest.
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1 - The signed limited edition of ISLAND OF THE DEAD has shipped to customers from Thunderstorm Books. My copies arrived yesterday, and it is gorgeous! Paperback and eBook editions will be available next year. You can read the serialized first draft on my Patreon for five bucks.
2 - If you missed out on ordering a copy of the above, I have a few available for sale via the Manhattan On Mars store. While there, you may notice that I’m also currently running a sale on all single-issue comic books there. Reminder that everything comes signed by me.
2 - Dark Corners of the Old Dominion, which I wrote an Introduction for, is now available here.
3 - October Screams, which features a new story by Richard Chizmar and myself called “Masks” is up for preorder here.
4 - The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood, which features a new story by me called “Where The Heart Is”, is up for preorder here.
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Currently Watching: Nothing
Currently Playing: Fallout 76 and Clash of Clans
Currently Reading: It Waits On The Top Floor by Ben Farthing and #Heartbreaking (No One Came To My Book Signing) by Judith Sonnet
Currently Listening: Sometimes Y by Yelawolf and Shooter Jennings
Sometimes Y is easily the best new album I’ve heard in several years. I’ve had it in heavy rotation in my office, car, while gardening and house-painting, and on my radio station.
It’s not country. It’s not hip-hop. And it’s not rock. It’s a whole new genre. The only way I can describe it is “What if Lenny Kravitz, Cheap Trick, John Parr, Blue Oyster Cult, The Cure, Molly Hatchet, The Cars, Foo Fighters, and Machine Gun Kelly recorded an album together?” Because that’s what it sounds like. Each song is very different from the one preceding it. My personal favorite tracks: the title track, “Hole In My Head”, “Radio”, “Jump Out The Window” and the blistering “Moonshiner’s Run”.
So yeah, if you want something completely different from anything else you’re listening to, I highly recommend Sometimes Y.
I should also take a moment to comment on the passing of Mylon LeFevre. He pretty much invented the Christian Rock genre, in addition to his secular recordings and performances with everyone from Eric Clapton and The Who to Billy Joel and Elton John.
I saw him in concert with his backing band, Broken Heart, seven times throughout the 1980s. He was consistently one of the most entertaining and ROCKING rock acts of that era. His live shows were so bombastic, so crunchy, and so much fun. Sadly, none of that energy was ever duplicated in the studio recording or the one live album he released with his backing band, Broken Heart. I’ve been told by friends in the business that’s because the Christian Rock labels wanted to mute it down to make it more palatable to their audiences, which has always struck me as particularly stupid, since it was the heaviness that non-belivers like myself were showing up to see. The same happened with Petra, Servant, Tried By Fire (which featured a dear childhood friend of mine) and other Christian Rock acts of the era. Secular folks like myself would go see them live, because they were heavy. then we’d buy the albums and invariably they’d be fifty shades lighter than what we’d heard. It wasn’t until bands like Believer that Christian Rock finally emphasized the Rock part, in studio.
Anyway, Mylon Lefevre was always amazing in concert. I'm not a person of faith, and wasn't then either, but I appreciated his gentle earnestness, humor, and sincerity when he expressed his own faith in between screaming guitars, infectious bass, and pounding drum hooks.
The only cassette tape I still own is this one I recorded back in 1982. Teen Brian's First Homegrown Bootleg. Still plays, too. You can hear my childhood sweetheart and I talking through one of the quiet moments.
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A reminder that due to a medical procedure for a family member, Mary and I had to cancel our signing at Dark Delicacies which was slated for later this month. We are, however, sending signed bookplates to the store, so please do stop in and pick up a signed book.
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Living legend Scott Edelman is selling some stuff on eBay to raise money for new podcast equipment. Among the items being offered is a very cool DC Comics baseball jacket, given out to staff and freelancers in 1979 or 1980. These are extremely rare. I’ve only seen one on the secondary market before this one. A really neat peice of comic book history.
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And that does it for this week. I’m going to update Patreon for the day, and then head out and enjoy this weather while doing some more house painting. Thanks, as always, for reading, and have a great day! I’ll see you back here next Sunday. Bring a friend with you.
— Brian Keene